STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) - Mississippi State softball (21-3) earned its eighth and ninth straight victories of the season via run-rule outings over UMass Lowell (2-12) to sweep Sunday's doubleheader at Nusz Park.
Picking up last night's suspended game, MSU added four runs over the final four innings as a pinch-hit single by freshman Carter Spexarth in the sixth walked-off a 9-1 victory over UML. MSU muscled its way to victory in game two with six extra-base hits to notch an 11-0 shutout performance over the Riverhawks.
"It was fun to get a lot of our younger players in the game," head coach Vann Stuedeman said. "Candace (Denis) threw a great game in just her second start. It's nice to get those runs up and get all those kids in the game. I'm really happy with the depth of the team. I feel like we can use a lot of people at different times and they are confidence to go in and perform when we need them."
Freshman Emily Williams picked up where she left off in last night contest, pitching the complete-game to improve to 4-0. Williams worked around six hits and five walks to allowed just one unearned run. She struck out a total of eight Riverhawks.
Making just her second career start, Candace Denis pitched her first complete game as a Bulldog, earning her first shutout of the season. Denis did not allow a free pass in the contest and only gave up two singles in the third inning. The right-hander struck out a career-high five.
State opened the scoring early Saturday night in the first-half of its suspended game versus UML. The Bulldogs got two on with two outs in the bottom of the first with a hit by pitch and junior Sarai Niu double before senior Carmen Carter plated a run with a single to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 advantage after one.
The flood gates opened in the bottom of the second as MSU loaded the bases with one out after a walk to senior Calyn Adams, an infield single off the bat of redshirt junior Bevia Robinson and a walk to junior Emily Heimberger. The Riverhawks fielded a groundball to third and recorded a force out at home to prevent a run, but senior Reggie Harrison drew a bases-loaded walk to put the Bulldogs up 2-0.
After a wild pitch allowed Heimberger score, Niu cleared the bases with a single to shallow center to extend the Bulldog lead to 5-0.
Saturday's game was suspended in the top of third due to inclement weather with one out and one on via a single by Marianne Sparacia. The action resumed Sunday with UML slugged a two-out double to put two Riverhawks in scoring position. An unearned run would score off an MSU error in a pick-off attempt to cut the lead to 5-1.
The Bulldogs responded in the bottom of the third with two runners on base, Heimberger knocked her third triple of the season to pick up two RBIs. She would come around to score on and RBI single to center by freshman Mia Davidson.
UML would keep the Bulldogs off the board in the fourth and fifth innings, but State stormed back in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, freshman Alex Wilcox step to the plate in a pinch-hit appearance, knocking her first-career hit with a single to right field. Senior Carmen Carter would re-enter the game to run at first and would reach third with a steal and wild pitch. Freshman Carter Spexarth ended the game with a walk-off single to left field to clinch a run-rule victory with a 9-1 final.
Game two featured another quick start for the 'Dogs in the bottom of the first. Heimberger and Davidson opened the contest with a single up the middle and a double to center, respectively, to put two in scoring position. Niu delivered with a one-out double to center two score two runs. Carter followed with a double to left field before senior Morgan Bell singled through the right side to clear the bases and give MSU a 4-0 lead.
The Bulldogs added two more in the bottom of the second. After a Heimberger single to center, Davidson sent a monster shot to straightaway center field for her team-leading eighth homer run of the season.
Denis retired the first nine batters she faced before the Riverhawks knocked back-to-back one out singles in the top of the third. Denis battled back with a ground ball to short to retire the side. She would not allow an UML runner to reach base again in Sunday's finale.
The underclassmen were the stars of the fourth inning. With two runners on, sophomore Lindsey Williams singled to left field to pick up an RBI. Back-to-back fielder's choices loaded the bases with two outs for pinch hitter Spexarth, who cleared the bags with a double to left center. Freshman Grace Dabbs followed up with a double to right center to pick up an RBI and give MSU an 11-0 lead heading into the fifth.
Denis and the Bulldog defense held strong with an infield pop-up and two fly balls to pick up State's ninth straight victory.